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Draycott's Golden Boot strike snatches runners-up spot away from Kent rivals Faversham

FOLKESTONE INVICTA 1

BURGESS HILL TOWN 1

Folkestone Invicta secured runners up spot in the Ryman League Division One South for a second successive season with a 1-1 draw at home to champions Burgess Hill Town at The Fullicks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Neil Cugley’s side thus faced a play off semi final at home to fifth placed Whyteleafe on April 28.

Invicta led on Saturday thanks to a 39th minute goal from Ian Draycott but Burgess Hill levelled in the 89th minute through Joe Keehan.

Draycott’s goal took him to 34 league goals for the season but Chris Smith also scored a first half goal in South Park’s 3-1 home defeat against Redhill on Saturday so the pair share the Golden Boot.

Invicta had gone into the game with an unchanged starting 11 on a sunny afternoon in their final match of the 46 game league campaign.

Burgess Hill had been confirmed as champions over the Easter weekend after a sensational season whilst Invicta have long known that they would be in the play offs for a fourth successive season and five in a row when they have been in Division One South.

The Folkestone side, though, still had to confirm second place.

Third placed Faversham went a goal down at home to Walton Casuals but won 5-1 on Saturday which meant that Invicta did need at least a point to stay second and control their own destiny in the play offs with regards to home advantage.

Faversham hosted Merstham in the other play off semi final.

Burges Hill striker Pat Harding shot on the turn at Invicta goalkeeper Tim Roberts in the fourth minute in what was always likely to be a tight encounter.

At the other end, Draycott received the ball from Matt Newman in the 17th minute and his shot from distance was touched out for what was, remarkably, the only corner of the game by Burgess Hill goalkeeper Josh James. Ronnie Dolan’s subsequent ball in from the left was headed wide at the far post by home captain Liam Friend.

Burgess Hill’s Toby Pointing became the first pf seven bookings in the game by referee Ollie Jackson for impeding the taking of a quick free kick.

Despite playing against the league’s meanest defence, Draycott was clearly determined to score and try to win the Golden Boot outright and curled a 29th minute shot wide after Nat Blanks had played the ball forward.

Goalkeeper James then got down to save another Draycott shot when a Wright ball fell to the Invicta striker on the half an hour mark.

Invicta left back Blanks was then booked for a block on Callum Saunders a minute later.

The home side went ahead when DRAYCOTT headed in from close to the line after Jordan Wright had played the ball in from the right hand side of the penalty area following a Richard Atkins touch.

It was Draycott’s 42nd goal in 55 appearances for Invicta, his 10th goal in the last ten matches and his 13th in the last 12.

Atkins glanced a 45th minute header wide following a good ball in from Josh Vincent deep on the right hand side, with Wright just unable to keep the ball in at the far post.

Dan Perry shot into the side netting from the left hand side during first half stoppage time, whilst there was still time for a Draycott shot to deflect off Pointing at James.

The start of the second half became littered with bookings as Micheal Everitt was cautioned for a challenge on Harding and Burgess Hill’s Dan Pearse was shown a yellow card, presumably for simulation, after going down following another Everitt challenge.

Invicta central defender Friend was then booked for a foul on Perry.

Burgess Hill’s work for the season was done well before Saturday and they could afford the luxury of taking off captain Daren Budd and top goalscorer Harding, with Scott Kirkwood and Guy Bolton coming on.

Kirkwood almost made an immediate impact when he shot against the outside of the post in the 65th minute.

Burgess Hill soon had a double booking to contend with as both Sam Fisk and Keehan were cautioned, presumably for comments made after a decision went against the visitors inside the Invicta penalty area.

Draycott was still chasing another goal and sliced a 76th mite shot over after a Dolan ball in.

Pointing then got across to block an 83rd minute Draycott shot after a Dolan ball in from the right following more good play from Wright.

Draycott had one final effort in the 88th minute when his shot warmed James’ hands after a Wright ball forward.

But Burgess Hill levelled when a free kick from the left cannoned off a couple of Invicta defenders before KEEHAN put the ball in from close range.

The late equaliser was the first goal that Invicta had conceded in five games, denied them 100 points for the season, ended a run of seven successive home victories and meant that they have not beaten Burgess Hill in four attempts this season.

But only a second Burgess Hill goal would have dampened Invicta’s spirits.

Burgess Hill can go on their holidays with a sense of great satisfaction.

Invicta now face the drama and tension of the play offs once again.

FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Roberts, Vincent, Blanks, Friend, Chappell, Newman, Wright, Dolan, Draycott, Atkins, M Everitt

Subs not used: Pilbeam, Miller, Wraight, Edge, Tamang.  

BURGESS HILL TOWN: James, Martin, Fisk, Budd (Kirkwood 63), Pearson, Pointing, Pearse, Keehan, Harding (Boltonm 63), Saunders, Perry (Frenyzen-Jones 79).  

Subs not used: Cowd, Morrish. 

Attendance: 368.

Corners: Invicta 1 Burgess Hill 0